Curious about your fertility? Mary McAuliffe speaks with herfamily.ie about fertility assessments
A fertility assessment is a series of tests designed to empower, educate and reassure women and couples about their reproductive health.
It’s advisable to have one, whether you plan on having a baby now or in a few years’ time. It is equally important however, to know exactly what an exam is testing for and to be aware that there is more than one type of fertility test available.
Every woman is born with her lifetime supply of eggs. These decrease both in number and quality as a woman gets older. This decline in fertility happens at different ages for everyone and can happen for some at an earlier age. In general, a woman’s fertility peaks in her 20s, after which it starts to decline slowly, with a more dramatic drop from the age of 35.
This is why it’s a good idea to have a fertility assessment while in your twenties. The more knowledge you are armed with, the more control you will have over your plans for having a family. The results may be positive and reassuring, or may identify a concern, thus allowing you to be proactive about your fertility.
If you are really concerned about your fertility and are planning to start a family soon, it is important to be aware of the range of fertility tests available and ensure you are getting the complete information on your reproductive health from a qualified fertility expert.
The fertility test that most women will probably be aware of is the AMH test. This is a simple blood test which measures one hormone, the anti-Mullerian hormone – or AMH, which assesses the level of egg supply. This test will give you an indication of your ovarian reserve, based on the normal range for your age. A normal AMH result gives reassurance that you have good ovarian activity.
This convenient, quick blood test can be reassuring as it allows you a ‘snapshot’ of your fertility rate at that time. My advice though would be not to do the test in isolation. I would also recommend a pelvic ultrasound scan that will assess the health of your uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries. The results from both tests will give comprehensive information about your ovarian reserve, which a fertility expert can explain in full detail.
In addition, recent studies have shown that AMH levels can vary from woman to woman, so if your friend has a higher level of AMH than you, do not let this stress you. You may still be in the normal range for your age group and, it does not necessarily mean you should be concerned or that you are infertile.
Self-referral fertility checks are another hassle-free and straightforward option. You can book an appointment online or over the phone and have a package of fertility tests done in one visit. This is also a cost effective route to go and there are usually reduced rates to avail of if you go as a couple.
Mary McAuliffe is Head of Clinical Services at Cork Fertility Centre.